Lot 313. A superb blue and white 'Winter' ovoid jar and cover, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Height 10 in., 25.4 cm. Estimate 20,000 - 30,000 USD. Lot sold 25,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
the deep rounded sides deftly painted in varying tones and washes of underglaze blue with two roundels each enclosing a winter scene, the first depicting Meng Haoran riding a donkey followed by an attendant carrying a prunus branch, the second portraying Han Yu crouched amid rockwork looking upward at the Daoist immortal Han Xiangzi holding a beribboned flute, all against a rich ground of prunus blossoms amid 'cracked ice', the cylindrical cover similarly decorated (2), coll. no. 142.
Provenance: Berwald Oriental Art, London, 2000.
Literature: Jeffrey P. Stamen, Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni, A Culture Revealed, Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection, Bruges, 2017, cat. no. 5.
Note: The present jar and cover represents the very best of the famous 'cracked ice' pattern. The painting of the figural scenes reveals a sensitivity akin to ink on silk and the depth of the layering to created the 'cracked ice' effect is remarkable. The decoration of the entire form serves as a harbinger of spring with its new beginnings full of good promise. Meng Haoren (c. 690-740), one of the most renowned Tang dynasty poets, inspired a play, written by Ma Zhiyan during the Yuan dynasty, entitled Meng Haoren Looking for Plum Blossoms on a Snowy Day in which the poet is upheld as a model of integrity and dogged determination in seeking out the finest example of the late winter blooming prunus flower. The other scene involves another major literary figure of the Tang dynasty Han Yu (768-824). A famous story of the poet relates his plight after being exiled by the Taizong emperor, wherein he finds himself trapped in a severe snowstorm at the Lantian Pass in Shaanxi and is saved by the immortal Han Xiangzi, who guides him to safety.
Sotheby's. Kangxi: The Jie Rui Tang Collection, Part II, New York, 19 March 2019